This Evil review contains spoilers.
Evil Season 3 Episode 3
“And you may kiss the bride a second time,” Father David (Mike Colter) opens Evil’s “The Demon of Sex,” and it turns out he’s pushing a young couple’s luck. This is the first time we’re seeing David perform a happy sacrament, and he appears to personally enjoy the ceremony. His minor grandstanding gesture of a third kiss is offered as a blessing, and the congregation takes it like a punch line. This runs in stark contrast to episode 2, “The Demon of Memes,” when David was struggling through the mundane duties of priesthood, but trips over a similar bump.
The monster of the week is the episode’s title character, a sex demon, and the investigating team is anything but discreet. Note Kristen’s (Katja Herbers) amusement as she hears the details of the newly wedded couple’s unrighteous interruptus. The installment does an admirable job keeping the supernatural and the psychological at play, equally, in the foreground, and as subtext.
Sister Andrea is a fascinating character. She is the most forthright and enigmatic regularly occurring figure in the series. Andrea Martin plays her in two worlds, sniffing ectoplasmic residue and enduring mooning demons with a straight face, while retaining a steadfast and singular focus. She never speaks metaphorically. When Sister Andrea scolds David for lacking the vision to see the slime he is standing in, she is palpably disappointed as a teacher.
Though she does chide her to do her job better, Sister Andrea is not disappointed in Kristen. This may appear comforting on the surface, but could also reveal a blind spot within the wary mutual respect. It is surprising how easily the nun ingratiates herself into the sexual conversations of the young couple in therapy. It is vaguely suspicious how the agnostically skeptical forensic psychologist invokes the Ten Commandments in her home. The additions Kristen’s mother Sheryl (Christine Lahti) makes to the children’s rebuttal are very Old Testament heavy, with peculiar focus on the clause: a little bit more than an eye for an eye.
“Ben the magnificent, you are falling apart,” Kristen’s daughters proclaim as they diagnose him with cultural derealization, and it leads to the best emotional subplot of the episode. Ben (Aasif Maandvi) is a mess. He’s not so funny anymore, his shoes don’t match, and he’s no better a plumber than Kristen’s husband Andy (Patrick Brammall). As Ben the investigator, sifting through data which doesn’t add up, Maandvi takes a totally guileless approach. He hides nothing and keeps searching. When incontrovertibly contradictory corroboration stares him in the face, he turns it inwards. Ben’s breakdown is a masterful implosion. We can see his entire intellectual process deflate, but when his sister Karima (Sohina Sidhu) introduces him to some programmers and science geeks, it is a complete blast.
The pair make for very believable siblings, and their playfulness, such as when Ben scares Karima while searching for scary memes online or husbands in nerd-Narnia, make for minor highlights. So, when the brother and sister team build an explosive device as an initiation into the Super Secret Science League, it turns out to be something we’ve been waiting for without realizing it. The extended family of Spock-eared-hackers, master’s studies slackers, and tech-journal fetishists may turn out to be Evil’s equivalent of the Lone Gunman on The X-Files.
The Makob cryptocurrency scam is as insidious as bitcoin mining itself, and Leland’s (Michael Emerson) motivational speech is a series classic, which would not be inappropriate as a running gag. We get the feeling HR doesn’t handle sensitivity issues seriously at Makob. Their policy on food allergies attest to that, and also bode well for office dramas to come. Evil thrives when it mixes commonplace contemporary problems with supernatural causes and solutions.
The most conclusive points scored on the series come with ambiguity, and Evil consistently plays the games on an open field. We can equally buy the reality of the Sister Andrea’s effect on the sex demon in the therapy room as we can the probability it is a religious delusion. The final chapter introduces an unexpected mystery at the heart of the mystic. The whole episode was structured to enforce our trust in the most faithful of the characters, and the Cardinal-appointed church overseer, Leland, uses it against us. The doubt creeps in as the team closes ranks, which brings delicious conspiratorial suspense. The possibility that the sex demon wins further erodes and enforces our faith in Sister Andrea’s ability.
“The Demon of Sex” is as ironically satisfying as the roleplaying blood magic inadvertently performed by the happy young couple seeking counseling. It provides simultaneous climax for both the psychological and theological arguments, landing in a new phase where the audience is tempted to doubt the believer.
Evil airs Sundays on Paramount+.